As the world remembers the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Hammond seems to have his sights firmly on acquiring Trident: nuclear holocaust anyone?

Following the anniversary of the atomic bomb being dropped on Hiroshima, Philip Hammond, a man proven to be firmly in favour of everything nuclear, ranging from nuclear power to the traditional nuclear family (Hammond abstained from voting in favour of gay marriage in May 2013), has zipped over to Japan for talks with his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida. On the agenda are discussions about how both countries can ‘contribute positively to global peace and prosperity, as well as the growing trade relationship’, with ‘further talks on how to deliver an EU-Japan Free Trade Agreement (FTA) by the end of the year, which will be worth £5 billion a year to the UK economy alone’.

Following on from Kishida’s excursion to the UK in January, where the pair were reported to have held talks about the Japanese hostages held by ISIS, common sense (as well as health and safety concerns) would suggest this meeting should at least mention the current energy situation. As the world remembers those decimated by ‘Little Boy’(codename for the bomb), the British Government could be in a position to spend £100 billion on a nuclear weapons system 1,000 times more powerful, a. k. a. our good pal Trident. Though the Japanese authorities have given the all clear to restart nuclear reactors, this is a move which, according to Jeff Siegel at Wealth Daily, is happening despite ‘no rational reason to continue relying on nuclear power. From both an economic standpoint and an environmental standpoint, it’s simply a loser’.

In a BBC report from 2013, Hammond is quoted saying how ‘reducing the number of submarines carrying Trident ballistic missiles would be “reckless”’. If Hammond wants peace and security, his first move should be preventing the build-up of powerful nuclear weapons that, if unleashed, would cause devastation far beyond what ISIS are capable of, and to such a level that no conflict could justify. It should also not be forgotten that in the earthquakes that hit Japan in 2011, most of the damage to lives, the environment and infrastructure was caused by the destruction and debris of the nuclear power plants.

The Foreign Secretary released the following statement:

I’m delighted to be in Tokyo for meetings with my counterpart Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and others. The UK values highly its strategic partnership with Japan, and the deep friendship between our peoples. Both of our countries have made a significant contribution to global peace and security over the last seventy years, based on our shared values. The UK and Japan have experienced first-hand the impact of Islamic terrorism and have a common interest in tackling this.

Countries like Britain and Japan must play their part in upholding the rules-based international system. I’m proud that the UK is the only country in the world to commit to spending 2% of our GDP on defence, and 0.7% on development. We will keep working together on the dangers we face, and the opportunities we share’.

With the EU being Japan’s third largest trading partner (as well as the EU’s 6th largest export market with a reported value of €44 billion), it is quite obvious what these ‘shared values’ might be; and, we should sincerely hope that the ‘common interest in tackling this (Islamic Extremism)’ involves more than drone strikes and something along the lines of carefully executed assistance to the Kurds, education and solidarity with those affected in the region, and swift negotiations and trade embargoes. With regards to defence, it should also be known that, at a ceremony in Nagasaki, city Mayor Tomihisa Taue condemned Prime Minister Abe’s plans to alter the constitution to make military action easier to take.

At a time when TTIP is facing ruthless criticism (it isn’t so much a ‘partnership’ as a blindfold), transparency is key in discussions concerning the EU-Japan FTA. This business trip, if successful, is forecast to bring £5 billion to the UK economy thanks to the FTA – a mere 5 per cent of the total cost for Trident. Imagine how beneficial the sum of twenty of these FTAs would be. But it begs the question – who will see the benefit of this sum? Will it lead to reinvestment in fossil and nuclear-free energy systems? Or, more likely, will it increase the revenue streams of the multinationals benefiting most from such international trade agreements?

At a time when Japan is turning abandoned golf courses into solar farms and, according to Prime Minister Abe, ‘determined to pursue a world without nuclear weapons’ (despite turning nuclear reactors back on), maybe Hammond should look closer at how much our investment into Trident correlates with Britain and Japan’s ‘shared interests’ after all. Considering the effort we are going through to limit Iran’s nuclear potential, we need to bring our own collection of Earth-shattering toys into the equation. Japan needs to move away from those nuclear plants, as quickly as possible, they simply are not safe. The ‘interest’ of continued nuclear investment simply maintains inequality and wealth for a few.

From Japan, Mr Hammond is heading over to Singapore (a country that swung from Japanese to British control following World War II) to commemorate 50 years of friendship between the nations. A friend from Singapore recently told me that at school her teachers were known to her as ‘colonial masters’, good to know we’ve got over the whole Empire thingamajig! I’m hoping that Hammond at least mentions the nation’s strict controls of free speech and remarkable disparity of wealth, but of course I’m not feeling too optimistic about that.

A final thought, with the government  cutting state costs like Edward Scissorhands on ecstasy, why not save money on fuel and set up a nice Skype between Hammond and Kishida instead?

 

Sources:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-23316115

http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/japan-is-turning-abandoned-golf-courses-into-solar-farms-to-solve-its-energy-problems-10379109.html

http://www.wmdawareness.org.uk/the-facts/nuclear-weapons/

http://www.wealthdaily.com/articles/japan-restarts-nuclear-reactors-invest-or-run/6214